(Updated December 19, 2018)
This is a roundup of security software packages. For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on consumer versions targeted at residential customers and small businesses that do not have a server. We will cover business oriented security products in a separate article.
After reading this article, see what security software you have and where it falls on the list. You may also want to forward this to your friends and family so they can see where their security software falls on the list.
We evaluate based on our own tests, personal experience, customer’s experience, and reviews by other credible sources. The criteria used to evaluate these products includes:
- Automation. We want to set it and forget it. It should automatically update, automatically scan, and automatically clean. It should not be popping up asking us if we want to allow something or not.
- Configuration. Can we configure it the way we want to?
- User interface. Does it make sense or is it confusing?
- How well it prevent infections
- How well it removes infections
- Annoyance factor. We don’t want any pop-up ads. We don’t want it to constantly talk to us or ask us a lot of questions. We don’t want it to block us from doing what we need to do, as long as what we are trying to do does not infect our computer.
- Performance. Does it slow down our computer?
- Price. Is the price reasonable?
No security software gets a perfect score because none of them can completely protect your computer. Thousands of new infections come out every day. They just can’t keep up. But the better the protection, the less likely your computer is to become infected. But you don’t want to go too far and make it harder to use your computer. Computer security is a balancing act.
When you purchase security software, they usually come in different editions. You can generally get a full security suite or just the more basic protection. Most people don’t need the full security suite. It adds a lot of features you don’t need and slows your computer down even more. We generally prefer the more basic packages with a few free utilities added in for extra protection.
We have organized this list of Security software into 3 categories. Not recommended, Neutral, Free, and Recommended. In addition to these three categories of software, we are also including a section of free security add-ons that you will want to check out to help keep your computer safe from infections.
So without further Ado, here is the list!
We don’t recommend using these products. If you have one of these products on your computer, we urge you switch to one of our recommended products as soon as possible.
There’s a free version, a premium version for $30, an Internet Security version fo $60, and an Internet Security Plus version for $80. Doesn’t provide very good protection and tends to slow your computer down more than other products.
Comodo makes several different security products. We like their firewall, although most people don’t need a software firewall since Windows has one built-in and your router does too. Their other security products provide good protection, but they are way too intrusive. The only product that we might recommend is their free Cloud Antivirus. However, for it to be useful, you have to disable the sandbox feature, the widget, and they web protection.
Provides good protection. The biggest problem with it is that it’s way too expensive. You can often find Kaspersky on sale on their websites and in stores, but even their sale prices are higher than most others normal prices.
There was a time, long ago, when McAfee was our favorite. But somewhere along the line it changed. Of the infected computers we find, of those that had any kind of protection, more than half had McAfee. It fails to protect.
- Panda Internet Security (Paid version only)
The paid version provides good protection but too intrusive and annoying. Slow performance too.
- PC Tools Spyware Doctor w/Antivirus
Intrusive. Not very good protection.
- Trend Micro Internet Security
Slows your computer way down. Too intrusive. Not very good protection.
- Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot used to be free for home use. There was a time when we recommended Spybot Search and Destroy, but times have changed. This product has not kept up with the times. It only provides mediocre protection with an antiquated user interface.
The story for Ad-Aware is similar to Spybot Search and Destroy. There was a time when we recommended it, but not anymore. Although Ad-Aware’s user interface is much better than Spybot’s, like Spybot, it only provides mediocre protection.
- Webroot SecureAnywhere
It provides pretty good protection, but not quite as good as our recommended products. It tends to slow your computer down more than other products.
- Windows Defender
Windows Defender is the security software built-in to all versions of Windows starting with Windows 8. On it’s own, it does not provide adequate protection.
These products offer pretty good protection, but have some issues. If you have one of these products, then you probably don’t need to switch right away but we recommend you switch when your current subscription expires.
- Bit Defender
Bit Defender provides very good protection, but unfortunately, it’s a little heavy on resources and tends to slow your computer down.
- AVG (Free and paid editions)
Provides good protection if you change the settings to be more aggressive. You’ll need to change the advanced settings after install it to tell it to provide better protection. When major revisions of AVG come out, the free version won’t automatically update to it. You will have to manually download and upgrade. The free version of AVG is very intrusive. Pop’s up ads frequently. Also tries to trick you into getting paid version by converting free version to trial version. Then the trial runs out and wants you to renew, even though you never bought it in the first place.
The interface is kind of clunky and is lacking some minor features. But although it’s not fancy, it does an excellent job of protecting against and cleaning up spyware. But not viruses. That’s why it should be used in conjunction with another security product. Most security products protect against both viruses and spyware. So there’s really no reason to have this additional product. The one thing this product is good for is removing spyware from an infected computer. But you can use their free version for that. No need to pay $30. The free version should not be your primary protection since it does not provide active protection and does not protect you from viruses.
There was a time when Norton was at the bottom of our list because it was too restrictive and slowed your computer WAY DOWN. But Symantec has really made strides in improving it and they have done a good job. However, we still see a lot of infected computers come in that had Norton on them. I guess the hackers have figured out how to get around it. Since Norton is the best selling security product, it makes sense that the hackers would go after it.
- Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition
Good protection for the casual, non-adventurous user. There is a pro version that costs $30, but don’t bother. The nice thing about this one is that it is so easy to use. Basically, you don’t have to do anything. This is nice most of the time, but if it blocks something it shouldn’t, then telling it to not block it can be a pain. It’s pop-ups are really annoying.
Recommended Free Products
In recent years, some free antivirus products have really improved. So much so that they are probably fine for most home users who aren’t too adventurous on the Internet.
Here are our favorite free products:
- Avast Free Edition
Good protection. Requires that you register your email address and receive a license. It talks to you telling you that Avast has been updated. Some people find that annoying. Note that there is a free version for businesses too.
Recommended Products (Paid)
Although not perfect, these products are the best available in our experience. These are the products we use on our systems. these are the products we recommend to all of our friends, family, and customers.They are in order starting with our highest recommendation
- Cyber Tek Computer Pros Security And Maintenance (SAM) Plan
Our SAM plan offers the ultimate protection plus a lot more including free infection removal if your computer does become infected. Click here for more information our this service plan.
MalwareBytes provides very good protection.
For many years Vipre was our number one recommended security product. We still recommend it because it provides very good protection without slowing your computer down. However, in 2018 they DRASTICALLY raised their prices making it less of a value.
Provides very good protection without slowing down your computer a lot. The interface is OK.
Free Add On Products
Whether you use a free security product or a paid one, we recommend that you use these two free add-on security products.
Some security software includes ad blocking functionality, but most don’t. None of our recommended security products include it. We recommend blocking ads because many infections get on computers through third party web banner advertisements. But never fear, you can get free ad blocking software for your browser as long as you don’t use Internet Explorer or Edge. We recommend you use Google Chrome or Firefox as your browser and install the uBlock add-on.
- BitDefender TrafficLight
This add-on isn’t available for Internet Explorer or Edge. It helps keep you from going to an infected website. Again, we recommend Google Chrome or Firefox with this add-on installed.
Computer security is a balancing act. Not enough security and your computer can easily become infected. Too much, and your computer can become slow and hardly usable.
The bottom line is that we recommend you use one of our recommended products (free or paid) and then add on ad blocking and website rating software.